I Pinned and Googled and YouTubed the heck out of the topic ‘How to Lay Sod’ and for some reason it seemed SOOOO easy that I convinced my husband it would only take two full days to lay 3,900 sq. feet of sod. And when I say ‘lay sod’, that involves a number of steps that you have to take before you EVER get to the actual step of ‘laying sod’. Not sure if I was really truly correct, we drove down to a well respected sod company to find out if what I was thinking was in fact a two day project … and he agreed with me that it was totally doable (WHAT?!?). Perhaps he thought my husband and I looked super handy? (People should never assume!) Now, it was not the most difficult thing in the history of the world to do, and the outcome of having a beautiful plush yard that our children could now play in was soooo worth it and the neighborhood impact was really cool too (see last paragraph for details), but friends…this is not a two day job if you are sodding the front and the back of your house and the total square footage is more than your house:) Just saying…
The Before – Front & Back Yard
- #1 – Make SURE your sprinklers are working properly. The absolute worse thing that can happen is you pay all this money and spend all this time laying beautiful new sod and your sprinklers don’t work in the end and your grass dies! Yikes!
- Rake Up The Dead Grass – This yard was pretty much all dead grass and weeds that the folks before us had not kept up with. When we raked this grass it came up super easily (although there was a TON of it). If it had been actual sod or had the roots been deeper, we would have had to a rent a sod cutter to remove the sod as part of our yard prep.
- Pull the Weeds – A number of people say weeds won’t go through the sod layer and I don’t think it is imperative to get ALL of the weeds out, but at least pull up the big ones and any that will make leveling your yard a task.
- Remove Rocks – Remove any rocks that will cause uneven leveling of the grass or that will cause it not to grow.
- Sometimes you will run into the UNEXPECTED that will instantly throw your already two day timeline to pieces – like say a 6-foot by 2-foot by 8-inch deep concrete slab that when you uncover it really looks like a GRAVE!!! Yikes! Kindly, this sweet elderly lady around the corner saw this giant slab in our yard and came over late that afternoon to tell us that it was in fact the slab that held the model home sign for the neighborhood back when these homes were built. Another neighbor came out and said he finally understand why grass never grew there. In all the years they had lived there, that section of grass was always dead. Here is a picture of my sweet hubby jack-hammering the GRAVE out of our yard:)
- Get quotes on compost cost/per square foot and include the delivery charges. Places had quite different opinions on how much compost we would need to cover our large yard. We ended up going with Don’s Garden Shop after calling a number of places. They had the best price, delivery time available and were super easy to work with! Now the lady at Don’s recommended we get 12 yards of compost… it doesn’t sound like a lot on the phone, but when a big dump truck comes and dumps this pile of dirt on your driveway you realize how much 12 yards of compost really is! Wow! Your kids will think this is super cool until 5 hours later you are still ‘moving dirt’ around your yard:) I forgot to take a picture of the giant pile before we started digging but here you can see it is still a lot of ‘dirt’! In this picture ~ a sweet neighborhood kid who came over and offered to help (he was awesome!), Erik’s Dad (we owe him so much for this huge task we put him up too) and I are shoveling our little hearts out:)
- Spread the compost all over the yard using a shovel, wheelbarrow and rake. I made him smile for this picture:) LOL. He is the best!
- Rototill the yard at least twice even though you want to do it once and your arms feel like they are going to fall off.
- (So last minute, we decided to put in pavers in the front of the yard to give it some borders and make it look sharp and more defined around the driveway. Erik’s Dad, Mike, is the pro in this area, and he laid and leveled every single paver for us. It took some extra time and money but it really looks nice! Thank you Mike!)
- Rake AGAIN, all 3,900 square feet of a yard (don’t cry)!
- Level it. There are a number of ways to level it. We were so tired, we did it by eye with a hard rake (whoops, should I put in our disclaimer here that we are not professionals but normal people?) Most people would recommend renting a leveler or you can find a number of YouTube videos showing you other ways to level your yard (rope & a long piece of wood, etc).
Are we done yet? Haha… we haven’t even gotten to the sod yet!
I called around to a number of places to price out sod/per square foot. While there might be a very small price difference between companies, when you are talking about 3,900 square feet that can make a big difference in your quote. A sod farm called Schubert’s Sod Depot, a little bit outside of town won our bid. They had the best prices, customer service, delivery options, etc. I was such a huge fan that I bought the sod driver a Starbucks card as a thank you:) It was honestly the best place to work with! Here is the driver delivering the first round of sod for the front yard!
So, this picture is great because it shows how awesomely level our yard is (even though we cheated and did it by eye) and it shows how much sod was required just for our front yard. Heaven help us! (And this little area is much smaller than the back yard!)
Grass is a bit fickle. It likes to be put down quickly and watered quickly (and often) as it gets used to your yard and considering the time they delivered in the afternoon, the time the sun would be going down, etc…we had just a few hours to get this sod laid.
- Start by rolling out a piece of sod in the corner of the yard. You want to make sure it is straight and flattened. This is the corner we started in.
- Take another piece of sod and lay it firmly in line with the first piece of sod, leave no wiggle room or space for either pieces of sod, but also make sure they do not overlap in any way. We also laid each piece with the cut angle of the grass alternating.
- When you get to the end of a line of sod, you will need to use a knife and cut along the border of the grass to trim off the extra sod.
- Start another line of sod next to the first line. As you make this row, lay the sod pieces in such a manner that it looks like you are building a brick wall.
- Continue this alternating sod rolls and the brick pattern through the whole yard.
- As you finish 1-3 rows you will want to hose the newly laid sod down with water by hose or sprinkler so that it does not dry out.
- Once you are done (yeah!!!) make sure you set your sprinklers to water the yard twice a day for 10-15 minutes per station.
The sun is setting but the front yard is finally done!!! (In this picture you see another neighbor helping us. Thanks Josh!)
The next day the rest of the sod was delivered bright and early to the driveway and I was the lucky one who chose to load and roll every single roll of sod into the backyard so that I didn’t have to sit on the grass and lay it all day. In the end, I am not sure which one was better or worse for your back:) After 8 hours of lifting sod into the wheelbarrow and rolling it (heavy!) into the backyard and laying it out for the guys to put all the pieces together correctly, I was exhausted (definitely not my best picture:) and not the only one who was T.I.R.E.D. (thank you Erik & Mike), but somehow we all just kept smiling:)…
So, in the backyard we started in the side corner of the yard and followed the same instructions that I gave you for the front yard. Here are some picture from our day of work!
The finished product!!! We are done!!!
Back Yard After! Kids love to run and play on the new, plush, cushy grass!
Front Yard After it’s first mow!
Laying sod was hard but it was so worth it in the end! The kids have a beautiful new play area to run around in which was a plus for our family, but also it impacted our neighborhood in a really positive way. Laying the new sod made such a huge difference in curb appeal that the neighbors 1) stopped in their car to thank us for fixing up the yard that the previous owners had not taken care of or been able to take care of, 2) they lent us a rototiller so we didn’t have to rent one, 3) they brought a small jack-hammer over when we discovered the grave (we had to rent a bigger on to get that baby out), 4) they just came over to help us so we got to know them, and finally 5) we are not sure if we inspired anyone in the neighborhood to update their lawns, but we have seen a large number of homes right around us update their yards and they look beautiful too. Project sod complete (and hopefully we never have to do that again!:)